‘A work in progress’: after 50 years Canada’s multiculturalism policy a ‘model,’ but must shift to ‘dismantling’ discrimination, say panellists

Good overview of the plenary with three good speakers but Nenshi, as often happens, stole the show with his blending of the personal and political:

Fifty years after Canada made multiculturalism an official policy, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi contrasted his life under the system to another political figure who, like him, was born within months of its enactment in 1971: the prime minister. 

Both men turn 50 within a matter of weeks of each other, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) this coming Christmas Day and Mr. Nenshi a few weeks later, in February. During an Oct. 6 panel dubbed “Multiculturalism@50,” Mr. Nenshi said the last five decades and the two leaders’ paths to politics reveals some of the impact of the world-leading policy put in place by Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, when he led the country.

“He grew up in a life of great privilege. But in a life where, as a formally bilingual white person in this country, he had a very different view of what multiculturalism meant than others may have,” Mr. Nenshi said in his set-up, contrasting that with his early years and how he—that “baby boy”—grew up in Canada.

“He grew up as a person of colour, who could not avoid conversations about racism, or multiculturalism, because they were actually part of his life, every single day.”

During the 2019 election, Mr. Trudeau pointed to his privilege to explain how he as a teenager, and a man in his 30s, chose to don the racist garb of blackface and brownface.

Following the revelations, Mr. Trudeau said he had “a massive blind spot” borne from his upbringing in “a place of privilege.” His critics, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (Burnaby South, B.C.), have noted a disconnect between his words and actions.

Last week, and again on Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau apologized for choosing to vacation in Tofino, B.C., on Sept. 30, the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Vancouver Island town is a few hours’ flight west of Kamloops, B.C., where, in May, the local First Nation announced it had found 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school.

Mr. Nenshi did not mention the last campaign’s scandal or the prime minister’s record, but noted in thinking about “the different paths that we’ve taken, and where we’ve ended up, both he and I in public life, through very different ways, we start to understand, I think, what the impact of that policy has been,” Mr. Nenshi observed.

Canada’s multicultural policy, adopted in October 1971 in a world first, is “one of our country’s greatest achievements,” said Independent Senator Donna Dasko (Ontario).

Sen. Dakso, also a panellist for the Metropolis Canada event, credited the elder Trudeau for his “vision,” and though the approach had its detractors, she said it did not “impede its progress.” She said Canada “marched forward” with the approach, adopting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, which “recognized the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural character of Canada,” and, in 1988, the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney passed the Multicultural Act, further “entrenching the principles and practices of multiculturalism.”

These efforts “marked Canada as the first country in the world to adopt these measures. And really, we did become a model of intercultural relations in the world,” said Sen. Dasko, a former pollster who said she has followed public opinion shift over the years so it’s now accepted as a “core feature of our national identity.”

Now, after 50 years, it’s time to focus on “dismantling,” and actions to address anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, said former Liberal cabinet minister Jean Augustine, who became Canada’s first female Black MP when she was elected in 1997.

Despite equal pay legislation and commitments to equality, she questioned why Black Canadians are overrepresented below the poverty line and in Canada’s prisons.

“We need to ask questions. We need to get more complete answers. That is the only way that we can continue to write the story and also tell the story of a more accurate, inclusive, and genuine multicultural Canada,” said Ms. Augustine, who served as minister of state for multiculturalism between 2002 and 2004. 

Still, Ms. Augustine said she remains “steadfast” in her support of the policy, invoking Winston Churchill’s remarks on democracy; that it is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried.

“We can say the same about multiculturalism. It is the best form and the best set of policies to enable us to be the Canada of the future. This is a work in progress,” she said. 

Canada must “meaningfully address barriers” diverse cultural groups face and “meet the challenges head on,” she said.

“The full dream of what Canada can be will only happen when we embrace true inclusion and equity. And this demands that we situate our approach to multiculturalism within a space that is anti-racist, and anti-oppression.”

While Canada is “immeasurably better” than it was when Mr. Nenshi’s parents first came to Canada, the mayor noted the country is still in a time when politicians deny systemic racism persists. 

This week, Quebec Premier François Legault doubled down on past statements saying it doesn’t exist in his province, following the release of a coroner’s report into the death of Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman who filmed herself being insulted by hospital staff before she passed. Mr. Legault “incorrectly” defined the term to “bolster his argument,” said Mr. Nenshi, noting the province’s so-called secularism laws are “blatantly discriminatory.” One law prohibits some civil servants from displaying religious symbols, such as wearing a hijab or turban.

That means lawyer-turned-NDP leader Mr. Singh, if he had practised law in Quebec, would be denied a path to ever be a judge. The topic came up in the English-language federal leaders’ debates, when moderator Shachi Kurl also described the law as discriminatory and asked Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, in light of the law, how he could say the province doesn’t have a “problem with racism.”

Remarking on the flood of criticism Ms. Kurl, a woman of colour, faced in the Sept. 9 debate’s aftermath, Mr. Nenshi said people of colour are often challenged for daring to “play the race card,”

“Let me tell you something, the race card is very rarely part of a winning hand,” said Mr. Nenshi, who, 11 years ago became the first person of colour to head Calgary and a major city in Canada, and the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city. In the city’s 136-year history, he’s one of seven non-white members elected to council, according to Mr. Nenshi.

But it was his religion that propelled him to the pages of the likes of Time magazine—even though it had barely registered in his municipal campaign. He could have said “no” to all those dozens of media interviews, he noted, but multiculturalism, in part, pushed him to have those public conversations.

“I thought that this was an opportunity to tell a story of a place where it does work [and] use my own ordinary, typical immigrant story as a beacon of hope for Canada and for the world,” he said, and while that story still feels real and true, “things feel different now.”

Mr. Nenshi said there’s been a shift in the last four or five years, though nominal compared to the flood of hate women of colour experience when they enter public life. 

“It seems that voices of division, anger, and hatred are growing louder and louder in our communities. And they sometimes seem to be winning.”

Echoing Ms. Augustine’s assessment, Mr. Nenshi agreed the next stage means a move from pluralism and multiculturalism to “true anti racism, to true reconciliation.”

Mr. Nenshi said he doesn’t know what that looks like, but he’s optimistic Canada can get there.

“But it starts by recognizing where we are. It starts by recognizing how far we’ve come, but it also starts by recognizing how far we have to go.”

Source: https://hilltimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a90bfb63c26a30f02131a677b&id=dace268bc7&e=685e94e554

Does COVID-19 mean the age of global migration is over?

Good overview of one of the more significant papers on immigration post-COVID by Alain Gamien that policy makers need to consider and reflect upon:

Is the age of migration coming to an end?

For decades, easy air travel, globalization and international competition for talent in some sectors have made the growing movement of people around the world seem unstoppable.

Until now.

With the pandemic leading to less demand for skilled labour, a smaller aging population to support, and a proliferation of travel restrictions, the future of human migration looks pretty grim post-COVID-19.

“We have had the migration boom, now we are heading into the bust,” said Alan Gamlen, a human geographer at Monash University in Australia and author of a new paper about the outlook of migration, Migration and mobility after the 2020 pandemic: The end of an age?

If Canada’s immigration numbers between April and June — the first full quarter under the influence of the pandemic — are any indication of what is to come, things don’t bode well.

According to a new study to be released later this week by the Association for Canadian Studies, the number of permanent residents admitted to Canada dropped by 64 per cent to 34,260 in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 94,275 during the same period last year.

Those who came under the skilled economic class fell a whopping 52 per cent to 24,805 from 51,665; the family class is down 78 per cent to 5,990 from 27,080; and resettled refugees and protected persons declined by 83 per cent to just 2,685 from 14,570.

While much of that is due to border closures, experts say it’s not immediately clear if the downward trend will be totally reversed once travel restrictions are eased.

In his paper, released in August as part of the International Organization for Migration’s “think series,” Gamlen posed ten key questions that guide future migration and mobility trends.

The No. 1 question on the list is whether countries will need less labour migration.

Unemployment has skyrocketed during the pandemic. With corporate borrowing at a historic high, Gamlen said many companies now lack the revenue to service debt and are either folding or cutting staff.

The net result will be a reduction in demand for migrant labour, with a large pool of unemployed domestic workers and mounting political pressure to hire them over migrant workers.

“It is hard to find grounds for much optimism regarding the short- to medium-term outlook,” Gamlen told the Star.

“We will continue to see dependence on migrant labour in certain sectors of the economy, particularly at the high and low ends of the skills spectrum. This is because some sectors involve work that native workers can’t or won’t do, and because innovation will remain a key driver of prosperity.”

Further complicating the forecast is the uneven death toll COVID-19 has taken on the elderly population, a group that’s particularly vulnerable to the virus as seen in the death rates around the world.

“If high mortality rates persist until a vaccine can be mass produced, the overall death toll could amount to a significant portion of the elderly cohort,” said Gamlen, a long-standing research associate at Oxford University’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society.

“If the pandemic devastates a specific generation, it will affect long-term dependency ratios and dynamics of demographic transition. It could reduce the proportion of dependent elderly people in the population and the financial cost of aged care, while generating a boom of babies conceived in lockdown.”

Places where people can move freely to another country by choice will likely see a decline in those rates as they put their migration plan on hold, but the traditional labour-sending countries in the developing world will see a “buildup” of people longing to leave their homelands, said Gamlen.

“The interaction of these changing flows from different places will, I think, lead to a period of unstable, non-linear changes in migration patterns,” he argued.

“The overall volume will decrease, but flows might be less predictable — like when you turn the kitchen tap halfway off, and the water starts spraying out sideways instead of flowing nicely down into the sink.”

Gamlen said it’s inevitable that the numbers of people crossing borders, especially on a permanent and long-term basis, will fall further before they bounce back — if they ever do.

“A huge amount depends on how governments manage all this. They will have a lot of control over when and how borders start to reopen and their choices in this regard will affect both the recovery timeline from the pandemic and from the economic crisis,” he said.

“Opening too early could reignite the spread of the virus. Opening too late could stifle growth and lead to a new era of closed-shop nationalism — which has ended very badly in the past.”

In its immigration study, the Association for Canadian Studies polled 1,531 Canadians between July 31 and August 2 about their attitude to immigration. Forty-six per cent of respondents still believed immigration would have a very positive or somewhat positive impact on Canada while 26 per cent of people held the opposite view.

Given the pandemic, 36 per cent of the respondents said Ottawa should prioritize the admission of those with family members in Canada, followed by refugees (16%), temporary foreign workers (12%), skilled immigrants (8%) and international students (7%).

Jack Jedwab, the academic association’s president, said whether the pandemic will mark the end of migration depends on how long the contagion lasts.

“Canadians seem comfortable with the reduced numbers and are still positive about the impact of immigration and committed to immigration as a strategy for medium to long term economic growth,” Jedwab said.

“But it is not clear when the medium term will occur. The contagion does not provide us with a time frame. There will be a need to reassess the needs regarding immigration given the economic uncertainty and what the changing circumstances call for.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/08/17/does-covid-19-mean-the-age-of-global-migration-is-over.html

Census data says you’ll make a lot more than your immigrant parents, but your kids won’t make as much as you | Toronto Star

The chart above breaks out the visible minority population by generation. While Black Canadians and Japanese Canadians have the highest percentage of third generation, the actual numbers are small for 25-54 years olds: about 24,000 and 12,000 respectively. The numbers of the other groups are all under 5,000 (many under 1,000), save for Chinese Canadians at just under 9,000.

Given the relatively small size, it may be premature to make this conclusion regarding the overall prospects for the third generation:

Children of immigrants make a lot more money than their parents but their kids won’t make as much as them, the latest census shows.

While visible-minority immigrants tend to earn less than their white immigrant counterparts, their kids more than make up the income gap between the two groups and also outperform their white peers in the second generation, according to a report by the Association of Canadian Studies based on 2016 census data.

Part of the study, to be presented at a national conference in March on immigration and settlement policies, examines the ethnic differences in after-tax incomes across first, second and third generations of immigrants by ethnicity in the prime working age between 35 and 44.

For immigrants — white or non-white — that upward socioeconomic mobility based on earnings fizzled by the third generation when all groups, except for the Korean and Japanese, made significantly less money than their second-generation parents.

According to Jack Jedwab, the report’s author, visible-minority immigrants made an average of $38,065 a year, compared to $47,978 earned by white immigrants.

Overall, children of visible-minority immigrants made a 47 per cent leap in their average earnings above their parents, making $55,994 annually, surpassing their white second-generation peers, who made $54,174 annually or 13 per cent more than their own parents. (The white group also includes those who self-identified as Aboriginal, who makes up 6.1 per cent of the group.)

While all children of immigrants of colour did better than their parents, some communities fared better than others.

Second-generation South Asians made the most progress, earning an average of $62,671, up from $38,978 from their immigrant parents. Their Chinese peers, who had the highest average annual income of all groups at $65,398, made 50 per cent more than first-generation Chinese immigrants who made $43,085.


“The entire second generation enjoyed a higher mobility though some communities were faring better than others,” noted Jedwab, who teaches sociology and public affairs at Concordia University.

The higher socioeconomic attainment, he said, can be partially attributed to immigrant parents’ expectations on their children to make up for the sacrifice they made for the move and seize on the better opportunities Canada has to offer.

“Education is certainly a key explanation and I would suggest that the value that children of immigrants attach to higher education is greater than is the case for the grandchildren of immigrants,” said Jedwab.

via Census data says you’ll make a lot more than your immigrant parents, but your kids won’t make as much as you | Toronto Star


Younger Canadians hold more negative views about religious groups – CRRF

Further to an earlier release of the CRRF and ACS Survey on Religion, Racism and Intergroup Relations in Canada Shows Differences in Attitudes Among Anglophones, Francophones and Other Groups, a further release pertaining to attitudes to religious diversity by age group. Remarkably consistent across religions, except for Muslims:

Table 1: Negative attitudes towards certain groups, according to age groups
 Negative Opinion







 Muslims 44% 43% 45% 40% 43% 40%
 Jews 19% 24% 25% 20% 15% 15%
 Protestants 15% 24% 23% 14% 15% 8%
 Catholics 19% 25% 25% 22% 18% 13%
 Atheists/Agnostics 21% 14% 18% 21% 21% 22%
 Religious 31% 36% 33% 31% 31% 27%
 Immigrants 24% 24% 27% 24% 30% 16%
 Aboriginals 26% 26% 26% 25% 29% 22%

Younger Canadians hold more negative views about religious groups

Whereas on diversity in general, young people are more supportive than older age groups, as another relatively recent study by ACS shows:

Do you have a very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or very negative opinion of Canadian Multicultural Policy
Total 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65 + French English Other
TOTAL positive 58% 74% 61% 61% 56% 54% 47% 48% 60% 67%
Very positive 15% 34% 18% 15% 10% 12% 8% 8% 14% 26%
Somewhat positive 43% 40% 43% 46% 46% 42% 39% 40% 46% 41%
TOTAL negative 35% 14% 29% 33% 35% 39% 50% 45% 32% 28%
Somewhat negative 23% 7% 19% 24% 25% 25% 33% 29% 22% 18%
Very negative 12% 8% 10% 9% 11% 14% 17% 16% 10% 11%
I prefer not answering 7% 11% 10% 6% 9% 7% 3% 7% 8% 5%

Younger Canadians Believe Multiculturalism Works; Older Canadians, Not So Sure 

I expect a further breakdown by region (urban vs rural, QC vs ROC), cross-referenced to more broad-based attitude polling, may cast more light, or it may simply reflect that younger people, in general, may be less religious.

No surprise, and consistent with other surveys, distrust of Muslims is higher than other religions (they did not ask about Sikhs which generally “rate” between Muslims and other religions). There may be a link between the categories “religious” and Muslims, given perceptions of more religious fundamentalism or conservatism.

Like all polling, one question leads to another …

Survey on Religion, Racism and Intergroup Relations in Canada Shows Differences in Attitudes Among Anglophones, Francophones and Other Groups

January 2014 survey on religious diversity, racism and intergroup relations by ACS and Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Not much surprising, communities tend to focus on their issues (and socialize more from within) and Québec attitudes towards religious diversity more negative. Racism highlights below:

Almost two in three Canadians (62%) report they are “worried” about a rise in racism. Concerns about racism and discrimination against particular groups such as Muslims, Aboriginal Peoples, immigrants and Jews vary greatly from one group to another.  Members of a particular group appear more concerned about a rise in racism and discrimination directed against their own group. Jews show a relatively high level of concern about racism directed against other groups as well. Francophones also show a higher level of concern except as it relates to anti-Aboriginal sentiment.

Survey on Religion, Racism and Intergroup Relations in Canada Shows Differences in Attitudes Among Anglophones, Francophones and Other Groups – Press Release – Digital Journal.